Too Close to Home: Twin Cities man assists his wife’s suicide

Posted On: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

Eden prairie man jailed and charged with assisted suicide

Thomas Houck of Eden Prairie called 911 on August 16th, saying that he awoke to find his wife, Linda Conrad, had committed suicide. Linda had struggled with health problems since childhood: chronic migraines, severe stomach pain, allergies. She also suffered from depression.

Later, Houck admitted that he assisted her in researching methods to end her life, shopping for supplies⎯nitrogen and a plastic hood⎯and rigging the apparatus for the suicide. If he really did wake up to find his wife dead that morning, we can be sure it came as no surprise.

Final Exit Network, a spinoff of Compassion & Choices, was convicted and fined after being charged with assisting an Apple Valley woman’s suicide in 2007. The Dakota County prosecutor on the case indicted Final Exit Network for connecting directly with the woman and providing the “knowledge and means” for her to kill herself. The method of “self-deliverance” taught by the Network’s “Exit Guides” involves helium tanks and a plastic hood⎯much the same as Conrad’s suicide.

Houck was arrested and charged with assisting suicide. He was released on a $70,000 bail until his next court appearance.

Linda Conrad’s tragic suicide is a clear example of how radical groups like Final Exit Network are gaining influence in our communities. These right-to-die groups promote ideologies that say life with disabilities is not worth living. Instead of receiving the care and emotional support she deserved, Conrad was given cheap, quick death by someone she trusted.

Furthermore, it almost goes without saying that it was likely her depression, not her physical suffering, that led Linda to kill herself. Assisted suicide advocacy groups like Compassion & Choices and Final Exit Network consistently overlook the connection between psychological or existential distress and the desire to end one’s life. How many people have been affirmed in the false belief that they would be better off dead, under the pretense of “mercy” and “autonomy”?

Minnesota is not an assisted suicide state. We stand for excellent healthcare, not cheap death. Let’s keep it that way.

Update (8/23/18): Houck’s court documents state that he eventually “confessed that he held the bag closed after [Conrad] put it over her head and continued to hold the bag as he turned on the nitrogen gas.” Houck also confessed to disposing of some of the evidence. 

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